According to Statistics Canada, 20% of single parent families are now male-led. In addition, 3.4% of same sex couples were males with children in the 2011 census. This number is presumably growing since the 2011 census only captured the first five years of equal marriage in Canada.
I fit into neither of those categories, so why mention them? The dads in these families have no women to fall back on when restaurants don’t provide baby-changing tables. The dads in these families face more challenges than in other families. Of course, there are many circumstances in which a dad in a heterosexual relationship will also be stuck with limited options when he encounters a lack of changing facilities.
This is where I come in.
Where do you change a diaper?
I enjoy changing diapers. It is often an opportunity for quality one-on-one time for me with my kids. Often when I encounter a lack of changing facilities and I am on my own I move on until I do find one. It isn’t often that I am totally out of luck or it isn’t a situation that can wait. Earlier this week I had such a situation and was faced with no change table.
My mum and my in-laws live a six – seven hour drive away from us. Usually when we go on road trips, whether to visit family or on vacation, my wife and I and our three kids are all in the car. We often encounter situations where baby-changing duty falls to my partner because there is no change table in the men’s room. We are always pleasantly surprised when we discover somewhere with a change table that I can use. We are even more pleasantly surprised when we make a suggestion that one be installed and there is one in place the next time we visit. Kudos to the Boston Pizza in Belleville, Ontario on this count.
This week my kids and I (mostly me) sent my wife away to visit her parents and get some rest and relaxation away from the kids for a few days. We followed a few days later, which meant one dad, three kids and some vomit – that is a story for another post. A solid road trip recipe.
No Diaper Changing at Tim Hortons
We changed up our usual lunch stopping place and stopped at the Tim Hortons in Tweed, Ontario. I quickly discovered the lack of changing table. Apparently they didn’t hear that Ashton Kutcher started a petition to change this situation. I spoke to the manager and he and his staff were apologetic and indicated it was a corporate decision whether to install change tables. They were also quite helpful in coming up with options ranging from blocking the six women waiting to pee while I used the change table in the women’s room to providing cardboard to use on the floor of the bathroom.
Dads shouldn’t have to choose between getting between a woman’s bladder and the toilet, laying their child on the floor of a public bathroom or using a cafe table to change a diaper. We will never have equality in the division of parenting labour if men don’t have a space to change their kids’ diapers when out in public.
All that said, an increasing number of places are getting the message and adding change tables in men’s rooms or building accessible family bathrooms.
While it would be amazing for all families to have an accessible change table available in all bathrooms, it is likely cost-prohibitive to install these in all private businesses. As a start we need to have regular change tables installed in men’s rooms as well as women’s rooms.
Changing babies’ diapers is a basic, frequent need for all parents of all genders. Change tables shouldn’t be exclusively in women’s bathrooms any more than science labs should only have men’s bathrooms. Fatherhood is changing. Dads are more engaged than in previous generations and it is time for companies to recognize that and install change tables to let us do our jobs.Fatherhood has changed and it is time for companies to recognize that and install change tables to let us do our jobs.Click To Tweet
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